THE DUP dealt Theresa May a fresh Brexit blow last night by threatening to delay a divorce deal with Brussels for “as long as necessary”.
The clock is ticking down fast to the hard deadline for a deal by Friday, or it will slip into next year and send business into panic.
Getty Images – Getty Ten of the DUP members are propping up Theresa Mays minority government
But the Ulster unionists’ boss Arlene Foster ripped up a plan to meet Theresa May for talks in No10, and even refused to speak to her on the phone, insisting they were too far apart to “talk woman to woman”.
The DUP’s 10 MPs – who are propping up Mrs May’s minority government – are still fuming over what they see as a bid in Brussels on Monday to bounce them into accepting a deal with Dublin.
They fear it will see Belfast having to align its rules with the EU on all key Good Friday Agreement issues – such as agriculture and energy.
Ms Foster last night accused No10 of keeping her in the dark over the wording of the Brexit divorce deal, which was due to be agreed in Brussels on Monday.
AFP or licensors Arlene Foster ripped up a plan to meet Theresa May for talks
The DUP boss said: “We hadn’t seen any text, despite asking for text for nearly five weeks now.
“It only came through to us late yesterday morning.
“Once we saw the text, we knew it wasn’t going to be acceptable.”
It could take “days” to hammer out an agreement between No10 and the DUP, its Westminster leader warned.
PA:Press Association Theresa May’s deadline for a deal is fast approaching
But Mrs May is desperate to resume negotiations with EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday – a day later than she planned.
Vowing to stick to its “clear red lines”, DUP Westminster boss Nigel Dodds said: “We will not accept any principles or language which lays foundations for separating Northern Ireland from the UK”.
But Mr Dodds opened the door to an eventual deal with the PM by saying there are “areas where it may make sense” to sign up to her plan for some regulatory alignment with the EU.